Thoughts and Apprehenfions of things, that we fhall have when we are fick and dying: let us now despise this World as much, and think as ill of Sin, as feriously of God and Eternity, as we shall then do: for this is the great Commendation of the righteous Man, that every one defires to die his Death, that at laft all Men are of his Mind and Perfuafion, and would chufe his Condition; Let me die the death of the Righteous, and let my last end be like his.

I end all with those Words of the wife Son of Syrach. Learn before thou speak, and use Phyfick, or ever thou be fick; before Judgment examine thy felf, and in the day of Vifitation thou shalt find Mercy. Humble thy Self before thou be fick, and in the time of Sins hew Repentance. Let nothing hinder thee to pay thy Vows in due time, and defer not until Death to be justified. Make no tarrying to turn to the Lord, and put it not off from day to day; for fuddenly fall the Wrath of the Lord come forth, and in thy Security, thou shalt be deftroyed, and perish in the day of Vengeance.





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St. MATTHEW V. 34. But 1 fay unto you, Swear not at all.


OR our more clear understanding the Senfe and Extent of this Prohibition of our Bleffed Saviour, Swear not at all, these two things must be observed:

I. That it was a common practice amongst the Jews to fwear by fome of God's Creatures, which Custom prevailed amongst them from a pretended Reverence of God's Holy Name : whenever they would affirm any thing with more than ordinary vehemence and earnestness, or beget an Affurance of what they said,

in another they thought it not fit or decent prefently to invoke the Sovereign God of Heaven and Earth, and on every flight and trivial occafion to run to the great Maker and Father of all things; but in finaller Matters, and in ordinary Talk, they would fwear by their Parents, by the Heavens, by the Earth, by Jerufalem, the Altar, Temple, their Head, or the like: nor did they count fuch Forms of fwearing cqually obliging with thofe Oaths wherein the Name of God was folemnly and exprefly called upon. To this our Saviour in probability refers in the Verfe foregoing myText; Te have heard that it hath been faid by them of old time, Thou fhalt not forfwear thy felf, but halt perform unto the Lord thine Oaths: they thought fuch only incurr'd the Guilt and Penalty of Perjury, who stood not to those Promises they had confirm'd by explicit calling the Lord himfelf to witness, but that there was but little Evil or Danger either in the common ufe of Swearing by Creatures, or in breaking fuch Oaths.

Now our Saviour here abfolutely forbids not only fwearing by the facred Name of God, but alfo by any of his Creatures; Swear not at all, no not fo much as by the Heavens, by the Earth,or by Jerufalem: and the reafon he gives is,because in all fuch Forms of fwearing by Creatures, tho God is not exprefly named, yet he himself is really referred to, and tacitly invo ked, who is the fupreme Lord and Maker of all: when you fwear by the Heavens, you call upon him whofe Throne is there plac'd; when O


by the Earth, you appeal to him whose Footftool it is; when by Jerufalem, you implicitly and by juft Interpretation fwear by Him that is the great King thereof. This our Saviour as plainly delivers on another Occasion, Mat.23. 20. Whofo fhall fwear by the Altar, fweareth by it, and all things thereon; and whoso fhall fwear by the Temple, fweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein; and he that hall fwear by Heaven, fweareth by the Throne of God, and by him that fitteth thereon. So that in this cafe, the truth is, if in fuch kind of Oaths, when Men fwear by the Heavens, the Earth or the like, they mean only the material fenfible Heaven and Earth, befides the Irreligion of vain Swearing, they are guilty of plain Idolatry, in giving to the Creatures that Worfhip that is due only to God; as (supposing those inanimate Beings able to hear them, and judg their Thoughts, and witness to the Sincerity of their Purposes, or to punish them for their Falfenefs and Hypocrify; but) if they do not believe any fuch thing of those Creatures they fwcar by, then muft fuch Oaths, if they have any fenfe at all, refer to God, and his Name must be understood to be invoked, even tho he be not exprefly mentioned. So that this Prohibition of our Saviour may be accounted to extend to all fuch Forms of Speech amongst us, as are used as Oaths (and fo understood) to beget Credit to what we fay, tho God be not named. In fhort, all manner of Oaths, whether by the Majesty


of God, or any of his Creatures, or any Words, Signs, or Gestures, which by common Custom and Interpretation are accounted fwearing, may be understood to be hereby forbidden, as well as direct exprefs Swearing; for a Man may swear without ever faying a word, if by receiv'd Ufage fuch a Gefture doth fignify our calling God to witness: and fo the Forms and outward Modes of Swearing are different in feveral Nations, tho the Reason and Senfe of them be the fame in all Places, whatever Words or Signs are ufed. If therefore fuch Phrases as thefe, Faith, Troth, and many others which I might name, are in ordinary Efteem and Practice thought to contain fomething more than an Affirmation, and are used and understood amongst us as Oaths, they are here forbidden to Chriftians under this Rule of Swearing not at all, tho fuch words in themfelves have not the Force of Oaths, nor is God immediately appealed to by them.

II. It is farther here to be obferv'd, that tho all manner of Swearing, whether by the Name of God, or any of his Creatures, be thus prohibited, Swear not at all; yet this must be understood only of arbitrary voluntary Swearing in ordinary Talk and Discourse, when there is no great Reason, no justifiable Occafion for it. It is to be acknowledged that some of the antient Fathers from these words did conclude it utterly unlawful for a Christian at any time to fwear; fome of their Sayings to this purpose 0 2


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